Interpreter of Maladies

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Navigating between the Indian traditions they've inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In "A Temporary Matter," published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession. Lahiri writes with deft cultural insight reminiscent of Anita Desai and a nuanced depth that recalls Mavis Gallant. She is an important and powerful new voice.
Curriculet Details
65 Questions
54 Annotations
3 Quizzes

The free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring foreshadowing and puns, as well as annotations describing symbolism, tone, and personal anecdotes. Students will explore the themes of isolation, assimilation, and lack of communication. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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A Temporary Matter

Click on the link below to learn about the agrarian revolts in India.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What do the first few pages tell readers about Shukumar and Shoba's relationship as husband and wife? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What is the simile comparing? What does it tell readers about Shoba?  
Pay attention to the symbolization of light. Think about how light could represent a deeper meaning in regards to the characters' relationship. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
Based on the information about rice ceremonies in the link from the previous annotation, please compare and contrast Indian traditions to Western traditions. 
Click on the link below to learn more about rice ceremonies in India.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Using textual evidence, explain what effect the candle light (lit and burnt out) has on the characters' relationship. What does the light symbolize for these two characters? 
The theme of isolation is beginning to form. Think about what the author's central message is revealing about isolation and what it can do to an individual's psyche. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why is Shukumar disappointed about the electric repair being ahead of schedule? 
Click on the link below to listen to music by Thelonius Monk. His musical style is similar to Miles Davis and Louie Armstrong.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Using textual evidence, explain why Shukumar calls the past few nights part of Shoba's game. In your explanation, include why he feels relieved and sickened at the same time. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Based on this paragraph, what does the author mean when she uses the word recoiled? 

When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine

The following link is a map of Bangladesh. Pay attention to how Dacca is spelled on the map.  (This annotation contains a link)
According to BBC, "India and Pakistan won independence in August 1947...It set a vital precedent for the negotiated winding up of European empires elsewhere. Unfortunately, it was accompanied by the largest mass migration in human history of some 10 million. As many as one million civilians died in the accompanying riots and local-level fighting, particularly in the western region of Punjab which was cut in two by the border. The agreement to divide colonial India into two separate states - one with a Muslim majority (Pakistan) and the other with a Hindu majority (India) is commonly seen as the outcome of conflict between the nations' elites." Think about why Mr. Pirzada would now not be considered Indian.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is the author's purpose for including the sentences in the highlighted text? 
Think about how the Partition in 1947 compares and contrasts to other genocides, such as the Holocaust, Rwanda and Cambodia. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
What is the purpose of the figurative language in the highlighted text? Be sure to use textual evidence and relate back to the information you learned from your previous annotations in this chapter. 
Below is a picture of a fez (a hat).  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What does the pocket watch symbolize? 
Before this point in the story, Lilia has a hard time understanding the differences between her family and Mr. Pirzada, but at this moment Lilia begins to see the horrific effects of war and how it affects her family as well as Mr. Pirzada. How does this imagery create a better understanding about cultural differences? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does the highlighted text reflect Mr. Pirzada's mood? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What tone does the smashed pumpkin create for readers? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
How does Lilia's feelings about her family and Mr. Pirzada help develop the theme of the selection? 

Interpreter of Maladies

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
Why does the author begin with a straightforward and direct tone? 
Watch this video to learn about foreshadowing. As you read, pay attention to what this line foreshadows.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How does the author introduce additional depth to the conflict between husband and wife? 
Below you will find a link about Sun Temples in India.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Based on the highlighted text, what does the author mean when she uses the word maladies? 
Pay attention to why Mr. Kapasi sees his job as a sign of failure. Think about his job and his culture.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Using textual evidence, compare and contrast Mr. Kapasi's experience to the two characters in the first chapter.  
Mr. Kapasi's statement reflects a type of irony. What does this say about Mrs. Das? How can Mrs. Das say his job is romantic but not show any affection towards her own husband and family? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What can be inferred from the highlighted text? 
The poem The Great Hymn to the Aten celebrates the creator; the sun. This is similar to temple the Das' are seeing on their tour.  
This is a link to some information and images of the Sun Temple the character is referring to.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What can you infer about Mr Kapasi in the following line: "The thoughts of that silence, something to which he'd long been resigned, now oppressed him"? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
Think back to the annotation about foreshadowing. What does this dialogue tell the reader? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What can readers infer about Mrs. Das? 
Quiz 1 

A Real Durwan

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What is the significance of Boori Ma's voice? 
Click on the link below to learn more about symbolism and how it is used in literature. As you read, pay attention to what Boori Ma's items may symbolize.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What does the author mean when she uses the word litanies? 
This phrase has been stated twice. This is called repetition. Pay attention to what these words may mean to Boori Ma. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What is the effect of the metaphor in the highlighted text? Use text from the chapter to support your reasoning. 
According to Wikipedia, "A zamindar on the Indian subcontinent was an aristocrat, typically hereditary, who held enormous tracts of land and held control over his peasants, from whom the zamindars reserved the right to collect tax."  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
The use of the word diaphanous to describe Mrs. Dalal's eyelids conveys what about her character? 
Click on the link below to learn about the condition and symptoms of prickly heat.  (This annotation contains a link)
Pay attention to how the residents feel and what they say about Boori Ma. Are their feelings genuine?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What do the two basins symbolize, especially for Mrs. Dalal? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
How does Mr. Chatterjee's statement develop the theme of the chapter? Use examples from the text to support your reasoning. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is the effect of Boori Ma's statement changing from "Believe me, don't believe me" to "Believe me, believe me"? Use textual evidence to support your reasoning.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Casting out Boori Ma is casting out  

Sexy

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What can be inferred from the highlighted text? 
Click the link below to view Bengal on a map.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does not attract Miranda to Dev?  
Click the link below to view images of the Taj Mahal. Pay attention to what the structure symbolizes.  (This annotation contains a link)
View the link below to learn more about the Mapparium at the Christian Science center.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Explain the significance of the Taj Mahal and how it emphasizes the theme of the chapter. Use the text to support your reasoning. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What assumptions can the reader make about Miranda? 
According to the Exotic India website, "the worship of a mother goddess as the source of life and fertility has prehistoric roots, but the transformation of that deity into a Great goddess of cosmic powers was achieved with the composition of the Devi Mahatmya (Glory of the goddess), a text of the fifth to sixth century, when worship of the female principle took on dramatic new dimensions. The goddess is not only the mysterious source of life, she is the very soil, all-creating and all consuming."  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Based on the highlighted text, what is Miranda feeling? 
Below is a picture of Madhuri Dixit, the female actress in Bombay.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What do the clothes bought from Filene's symbolize in Miranda's eyes? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
The use of Rohin's definition to describe sexy is meant to convey what about his character? 

Mrs. Sen’s

Pay particular attention to how the Sen's house is described. This imagery will symbolize something later. Think about what it may represent for Mrs. Sen.  
Eliot believes his mother is the one who looks odd. His reaction to Mrs. Sen's appearance let's us know that he views her similarly to him. Pay attention to what similarities these two characters share. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What effect does the ellipsis (the three dots) have on readers? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What underlying theme does Mrs. Sen's statement, "Everything is there" represent?  
Click on the link below to learn more about Indian wedding traditions.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What is the significance of anecdotes being used in the story? Use text to support your reasoning.  
Use the link below to learn more about anecdotes and how they are used in literature.  (This annotation contains a link)
Below is the picture of a crushed vermilion.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What does Mrs. Sen's apprehension to drive symbolize? 
According to Wikipedia, "an Aerogram, Aérogramme or Air Letter is a thin lightweight piece of foldable and gummed paper for writing a letter for transit via airmail, in which the letter and envelope are one and the same. Most postal administrations forbid enclosures in these light letters, which are usually sent abroad at a preferential rate. Printed warnings existed to say that an enclosure would cause the mail to go at the higher letter rate."  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Explain how Mrs. Sen and Lilia, the character from the story "Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine", view the idea of time and how it relates to certain events. Use text to support your explanation.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What tone does the highlighted text create? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What is the tone of the highlighted text? 
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, "a raga is based on a scale with a given set of notes, a typical order in which they appear in melodies, and characteristic musical motifs. The basic components of a raga can be written down in the form of a scale (in some cases differing in ascent and descent). By using only these notes, by emphasizing certain degrees of the scale, and by going from note to note in ways characteristic to the raga, the performer sets out to create a mood or atmosphere (rasa) that is unique to the raga in question. There are several hundred ragas in present use, and thousands are possible in theory."  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How does the author introduce additional depth to Mrs. Sen's internal conflict? 
Chapters 4-6 Quiz 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What do the "gray waves receding" symbolize for Eliot? 

This Blessed House

An effigy is a representation of a specific person in the form of sculpture or some other three-dimensional medium. Think about how this religious figure differs from Hindu beliefs.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What tone is established in the highlighted text? 
Here is a picture of Saint Francis.  (This annotation contains an image)
The definition of a born-again Christian is below.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What does the author mean when she uses the word sacrilegious? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
Based on the annotation above, what is the author's purpose for using Twinkle as the main female character's name? How does it relate to her personality? Use text from the annotation and chapter to support your reasoning. 
Listen to the song "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Think about how this song relates to Twinkle's name.  (This annotation contains a video)
Watch the first few minutes of Mahler's Fifth Symphony in the video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
How does the author's use of Mahler's Fifth Symphony reinforce the reader's understanding of Sanjeev? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What can be inferred from the highlighted text? 
Below is an image of the Virgin Mary.  (This annotation contains an image)
Sanjeev is starting to doubt his relationship with Twinkle. Pay attention to how both of characters fail to live up to each others expectations.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Explain the significance of Sanjeev's sentiment. How does it relate to the theme of the chapter? Use text to support your reasoning.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What does Twinkle's reaction to Sanjeev wanting to take the statue to the dump let readers know about her character? 
Watch the video below to learn more about puns.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What is implied in the highlighted text? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How do the Christian-like figures represent Twinkle's character? Use text to support your reasoning.  

The Treatment of Bibi Haldar

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Author Jhumpa Lahiri establishes an inquisitive tone immediately opening her chapter. What is implied about Bibi's illness? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does the use of imagery in the first paragraph help develop the conflict? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Based on the annotation above, what do Bibi's soliloquies show readers about her inner thoughts? 
According to Merriam Webster dictionary, a soliloquy is "a long, usually serious speech that a character in a play makes to an audience and that reveals the character's thoughts." Shakespeare is notorious for using soliloquies in his plays. His famous "To Be, or Not to Be" soliloquy is shown in his play Hamlet. 
Think about the inner workings of a marriage and how those actions will cure a person. What is it about a marriage that may help Bibi's illness? 
They say Bibi has not been taught to be a woman, but if she has not been given the chance and is continuously restricted, how can she grow and mature as a woman? 
Dowries are a part of Indian culture. View the link below to learn more about them.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What does the author mean when she uses the word assiduous? 
During the Victorian Era many women who experienced "ailments" were considered emotionally imbalanced. This concept is seen in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. Critics have said Bibi is suffering from epilepsy. What ailment do you believe Bibi has? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
According to the women in the village, who or what cured Bibi? 

The Third and Final Continent

The characters in the text are all from Calcutta. Below is a map of the country.  (This annotation contains an image)
Below is a picture of a Grundig reel-to-reel.  (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the short clip of the first man landing on the moon.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How does the use of personification and imagery in the highlighted text reinforce how the character feels? 
Pay attention to why the old lady would like for him to say splendid instead of another word. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Based off the highlighted text, how does the character feel about his marriage? 
A spinster is someone who is considered an "old maid", a person who is older and is still not married.  
The Indian culture is different from the West. View the link below to learn about Indian etiquette.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What can be inferred from the highlighted text and Mrs. Croft's repetition of the man landing on the moon? 
Mrs. Croft is 103. Think about how her age impacts her relationship with the main character. 
Here is information about encephalitis.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Unlike Mrs. Sen, the main character  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Mrs. Croft's approval of Mala symbolize for the main character? 
Quiz 3 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Using examples from the text, explain the theme of this story.